40m icicle snaps off, falls on tourists on Russia

The massive icicle landed on four tourists, killing one.
The massive icicle landed on four tourists, killing one. Photo credit: Siberian Times / Twitter

A massive frozen waterfall has fallen on a group of tourists visiting a Russian volcano, leaving one of the group dead.

The Vilyuchinsky waterfall, located on the Kamchatka peninsula's Vilyuchik volcano, freezes every winter. The impressive formation - known as the Tsar Icicle - reportedly attracts thousands of visitors a year, despite its remote location. 

Dozens were there last Thursday when the 40m icicle suddenly snapped off, falling on top of four tourists who were standing right beneath it, a statement from the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations said.

More than 40 rescuers flocked to the scene, but arrived too late to save one of the tourists. Three others - including a teenager - were flown to hospital by helicopter after spending hours trapped in the ice.

It's not clear what caused the icicle to break - though a nearby avalanche is suspected. Kamchatka is scattered with volcanoes, 29 of them currently active. 

Most have glaciers in winter, which form waterfalls in the summer. 

The ministry urged tourists to register their hiking routes with officials so they can respond more quickly in emergencies.